6 DIY projects to turn a broken monitor into something new
Breaking your beloved computer screen is a tragic situation you will find yourself in. Although you may not be able to enjoy your PC like before, you don’t have to mourn the loss of your screen: you can recycle it. But how do you turn a broken computer screen into something new? Let’s take a look at some of the best projects on the web to help you achieve this goal.
1. DIY transparent LCD display/side panel
Although it doesn’t look like it, the pixel panel inside your monitor is semi-transparent. This allows the backlight to pass through it, which in turn allows images to be displayed on the screen. Of course, however, you can take advantage of the seamless nature of your broken monitor panel when it comes to turning it into something new.
Building your own transparent LCD screen, like in this Instructables guide, takes patience and a broken monitor with a working panel. This makes this type of project ideal for those with monitors that have broken speakers, backlights, or other components that aren’t needed for it.
What is a transparent LCD screen used for?
This LCD computer side panel guide shows you how to make a transparent LCD side panel for a computer case, but there are many other ways to use a transparent monitor. You can attach your monitor to an aquarium, using the lights inside as a backlight (as long as it doesn’t disturb the fish). Alternatively, you can also mount a monitor like this inside a window to use natural light as a backlight.
There are many ways to use a transparent LCD screen; you just need to make sure you have a way to turn it on from behind.
2. DIY Photography Lighting from Broken Monitors
LCD, LED and other types of monitors contain semi-transparent sheets called diffusers. Diffusers diffuse the light created by backlights to ensure that it covers the screen evenly, much like the diffuser panels used by photographers.
This project is great for those who have monitors that don’t work at all. The diffusers do not require a power source or working electronics, meaning physical damage to the diffusers themselves is the only issue that will render them unusable.
Using monitor diffusers to create photographic lighting is affordable and easy. You just need to get your hands on some LED strips to get started, and there are plenty of guides on the web to help you through the process. This type of lighting is perfect for photography, videography, and even live streaming.
3. DIY LCD Smart Mirror (with Raspberry Pi)
Smart mirrors have been the subject of a lot of hype on the web in recent years. Like something straight out of the pages of a sci-fi novel, smart mirrors offer a glimpse into the future, transforming a typically boring household item into something more. You can use your smart mirror to check the weather, catch up on news, and even shop for your next outfit, all while staring your beautiful self in the face.
Like the first idea we covered, your old monitor needs to be in relatively good shape to work as a smart mirror. You can choose from small and large mirrors, as long as you are able to remove the backing from the mirror of your choice and expose the clear glass it is made of.
Raspberry Pis are great for powering smart mirrors. These mini computers are powerful enough to perform basic tasks, while being affordable. You can check out some of the best LCD smart mirror projects on the web with our handy guide.
4. DIY Bluetooth speakers from broken speakers
The wireless speakers are excellent, giving you the power to take music on the go. Of course, though, who wants to buy new speakers when they have an old or broken monitor with great built-in speakers? This video shows you how to turn your old TV monitor or speakers into a wireless Bluetooth speaker with a soldering iron, batteries, and a Bluetooth module.
Building a DIY Bluetooth speaker is easier than before, but there are still some things to keep in mind. You need to have the right kind of speaker connections for this to work, and your finished device won’t have advanced features like waterproofing. That said, this project is fun and easy to tackle on your own.
5. DIY Drawing/Craft Lighting
Drawing, arts and crafts, and other types of DIY projects often benefit from a good light source. Artists have long taken advantage of light tables, providing a backlight for artwork that makes it much easier to see what you’re doing. You don’t need to buy a specialized light table when you have a broken monitor at your disposal.
This Instructables guide shows you everything you need to do to create a light table with a broken monitor. The panel doesn’t have to work for this, but you need to make sure the backlight is still functional. Light tables are ideal for a variety of artistic pursuits, from drawing and painting to playing with the kids.
6. DIY Cinema Projector
If you graduated over a decade ago, you probably remember old-school overhead projectors. Having made way for modern digital projectors, older overhead projectors are very cheap to buy online and can be a great DIY project for anyone with an old monitor.
Overhead projectors work by shining light through a semi-transparent sheet and reflecting it through a lens and a set of mirrors. Everything on the sheet will appear on the wall the projector is pointing at. By turning your monitor into a transparent LCD screen, like in the first project we reviewed, you can turn a static overhead projector into something so much more.
You need a dark room for it to work properly, and you’ll also need to purchase a few rooms online. Once you’ve drawn the curtains and found some good speakers to use, you can create your own home theater without spending too much.
Turning broken monitors into something new
Recycling broken technology in your home is one of the best ways to have a positive impact on the environment. With over 60 million tons of e-waste being shipped around the world each year, it always makes sense to embrace DIY projects that repurpose old gadgets. Your broken monitor is the perfect place to start, but you can apply it to other objects as well.
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